SAGINAW (WJRT) -
(05/12/14) - Positive progress - that's how stake-holders who met with Gov. Rick Snyder sum up the public safety picture in Saginaw.
Monday's meeting was not open to the media.
Meeting-goers were told there will soon be more "boots on the ground".
Right now, Saginaw's police force of 55 officers is reinforced by 26 Michigan State Police troopers assigned to the city for directed patrols.
Monday, the State Police said six more troopers will be sent to Saginaw when the current trooper recruit school graduates at the end of the month.
For some background, MSP's "proactive"-directed patrols have been going on for several years.
In 2007, six troopers were dedicated to the city. Now, more than four times as many are on the streets.
And as we learned Monday, that partnership between the state and city is stronger than ever.
Gov. Snyder came to Christ Fellowship Missionary Baptist to talk with local police, city leaders and members of the church community. They agreed there are anti-crime strategies that are working.
One example was the 'Light Up the City' initiative, where people are encouraged to turn on their porch lights and keep a closer eye on their neighborhoods to deter crime.
The Governor says the proof is in some key numbers.
"At least for the first quarter, we've had a significant reduction in crime. Over 20 percent for both violent crime and property crimes, so I think good progress is being made by the partnership going on here," Snyder said.
So what's behind the drop?
"We're, I think, tighter than we've ever been," said Col. Kriste Kibbey Etue.
Also working, "We're starting to see a little bit of a break in that no snitch code," said Brian Lipe, Saginaw Police chief.
Lipe says the murder of Tonquinisha McKinley at a pre-prom gathering last year made people mad.
"We're getting key witnesses that probably wouldn't have testified before that are all of a sudden now testifying," he said.
Northeast Saginaw Neighborhood Association president Larry Campbell took part in this closed-door meeting with the governor.
"Some of the neighbors feel like they're in somewhat of a safer environment," he said.
Campbell says the "Light Up the City" program has helped, but there's more police, city leaders and community members can do.
"Start attending the neighborhood association meetings, start attending the city council meetings," he said.
"Is there more we can do with after school programs for example? Is there more we can do in some of the neighborhoods in terms of blight?" Snyder said.
"We put all those initiatives together, hopefully Saginaw will get off of that top ten list," Campbell said.
"I think that we're making very good progress, it's just a small start, but I think the momentum's there and we just need to continue that," Lipe said.
"And it doesn't just stop at the border of the city of Saginaw. This, this covers our whole region. What is good for Saginaw is good for the Great Lakes Bay Region," said Dennis Browning, Saginaw mayor.
Flint was also brought up at the meeting.
Emergency Manager Darnell Earley's budget calls for laying off 36 people in the police department. Snyder was asked if he'd send more help to Flint.
"We'll look at all the circumstances, we've continually added more resources to Saginaw, to Flint, to Detroit, over the years," he said.
Those cities, along with Pontiac, have dedicated Michigan State Police patrols under the 'Secure Cities Partnership' announced in March of 2012. It provides extra protection to the state's most violent cities.